As many of you know, I’ve been involved with veterans’ mental health since the conception of Warriors Next Adventure in 2019. I will state again for those who don’t know, I am not a licensed therapist, psychologist or counselor. I’m just a guy that has done the work and created the WNA program based off of experience and trial and error. I have made some observations surrounding social media and its effects on mental health focusing on PTSD.
Now, having PTSD myself and observing hundreds of veterans that utilize social media, I have noticed a double edged sword.
There are multiple negative effects social media can have on anyone, not just people with PTSD. It is an easy escape and an endless supply of dopamine which can cause you to get hyper focused on your screen, instead of the world around you. That easy, quick dopamine fix can be addicting causing you to choose sitting in bed all day on your phone, instead of doing something productive. We all know that can lead to a deep dive into depression. These days everything is so hyper politicized, and it is easy to get on social media and spend they whole time pissed off at opposing political ideologies. PTSD can cause you to explode quickly and overreact to situations that most people could regulate properly. Its really easy to chew someone out when they are not in front of you and there are no repercussions. Most of the time at least. If someone is suffering from PTSD it could be easy to get triggered going down rabbit holes and watching combat videos. We also have the IG models that post half nude photos just to get the attention and women judging themselves based on what other women look like. There is also the negative effect of looking at extreme athletes and thinking “Ill never be good enough to do that” then you crawl back into your depression hole. However, you can turn all of that around and take the jealousy or irritation, and turn it into inspiration.
There are a ton of positive effects social media can have. I personally have had hundreds of veterans reach out because of some of the post I’ve made on Warriors Next Adventure Facebook page. I post engaging content that makes veterans think about how they reacted in the past, how they truly feel, and when to speak up when they are struggling with PTSD. I also share loads of education about how to control your PTSD and eventually, overcome it. I post when I’m feeling depressed and how its ok and it will pass. Sometimes acknowledging how you are feeling out loud and to others, it will help you snap out of it. The best part is others know that they are not alone in the struggle. There are thousands of Facebook groups that encourage engagement on social media and in person. I’ve utilized all social media platforms as a way for me to put my comedy out there and make people laugh. It makes me feel good that I can make others happy, and it benefits them as well. It is an amazing marketing tool that helps me raise $50k a year just based off of helping others, posting content, and running fundraisers.
Veterans can struggle to connect at times and social media makes it a little easier. I will always encourage vets to connect in person because it is more effective. Social media is a lot like a diet. You get out of it what you take in. If you take in a bunch of negative content, you will likely have a negative day. I suggest limiting your time as much as possible, disengage when negative comments come your way, and do your best to be a positive influence. I do my best to find content to make me laugh as much as possible. You can also find plenty of contend you can learn from. YouTube university is an extremely effective learning tool if you put what you learn to use.
I always suggest people spend a day or two without any social media intake. The 3 day effect is something we utilize as much as possible here at WNA. 3 days without social media, tv, or music out in nature can drastically decrease your stress levels. If you decrease your stress levels, you will lower your cortisol production which will also increase your endorphin levels. Mix that with some social interaction and physical touch, you get oxytocin release also known as the love drug. Natural dopamine release will come when you add on small tasks like building a camp fire or catching fish to eat.
Much of this can be learned on social media. However, you have to go out and do it, to experience it. Regulate your time on social media, but make sure its worth it when you do.
Leave a comment below and tell us what positive and negative effects social media has on you.
Love you. Now put your phone down and go do something productive.
Nick Rahn- WNA CEO